2019 MINI Countryman JCW Midnight Black Edition.
Updated: Apr 25, 2019
This week‘s car review is the 2019 Mini Countryman JCW in Midnight Black Edition. Our test car was assembled at the Born plant in the Netherlands. Our test car has an MSRP $46990 CND, the base price of our car test car is $39720 CDN and comes with only one option. That option is the midnight black edition for $7200 CND that comes with quite a few goodies.
Fun Factor: 9
Can it Family: 7
Karaoke Friendly: 7
Baby friendly: 7
City Cruising: 7
Last year we tested the Mini Countryman S, and before picking up our test car at BMW, we expect something in the lines of a Countryman S with more power. Especially since the midrange Countryman S is already a competent car and handles like a charm. The JCW just improves on being more nimble, has more power and is a lot louder. Once Sport mode is engaged the crackles & pops are so addicting that you’ll always want to shift 1 or 2 gears below what the 8-speed automatic shifts you in to stay above the 3000 rpm range and enjoy the symphony coming out of your exhaust. Our car was equipped with the 2.0L twin-scroll engine that has an output of 231hp and 258 lb-ft of torque the same engine is also found in other BMW cars, such as the X1, X2 and the BMW 225i that is offered in Europe. A more powerful variation of the engine is also found in the brand new Z4 and its twin from another mother, the Supra. Both of these are currently assembled at the Austrian Magna Steyr facility were the first generation of the Countryman's was assembled. This has now shifted to a factory in the Netherlands. The JCW Countryman will achieve 0-100km in 6.5 seconds. In our usual test we achieved 0-100km in 7.9 seconds and attempted this several times always getting the same outcome. These results are a little far from what MINI announce. The only way we can explain these results are the non-sporty winter tires and potentially sensors that slowed down due to ambient temperature being below 0c.
Can the JCW variant be a family car? When we tested the Countryman S last year, we already found that even though the car is called mini, it had enough space for the family. 2 adults can sit enjoyably on the backseats without being cramped. However, a third adult would be pushing it, unless the middle seat is used for a child. In our conventional configuration, we have one child seat installed and 2 additional children. Our kids found the seats comfortable and relaxing to sit in, they never felt that space was an issue in the back. As for cargo, a medium sized stroller will fit in the trunk and still have plenty of space for shopping bags. The rear seat folds in a 40/20/40 configuration and can slide back & forward for more comfort or cargo room when needed.
Going to our fuel test, we will start with the results announced by Mini Canada. For the city, they advertise 10.6L per 100km, 7.8 per 100km on the HWY resulting in a combined consumption of 9.3L per 100km. Our city results were 14.2L per 100km, on the HWY our results were 7.9 per 100km giving us a combined result of 12.9km per 100km. Our results were achieved with 18-inch (225/50R18 Bridgestone winter tires), temperature oscillating between -9c and +6c. Very spirited driving in our city test. Our test cycle was done over a week with over 400km of driving using 91 Octane fuels. MINI’s recommended fuel is 91, the minimum that MINI suggests is 89 Octane.
Is the Countryman worth of being a HWY cruiser? Yes, starting with the driving comfort of the sporty seats found in the JCW they are not too firm nor too soft making longer drives effortless on your back. The gas consumption is very decent between, and the gas tank is of reasonable size of 61L. Resulting in the potential of 772km per fill-up on our HWY based gas consumption test. As for the handling on the HWY, the sporty drive-train of the JCW Countryman will make sure that you’re smiling when entering a corner and when exiting your smile will even be more prominent as the experience is satisfying & rewarding. Mated to that is MINI's ALL4 system that will give you assurance never to be stuck during a snow storm.
The sound system found in our Mini Countryman JCW is the optional Harmon Kardon system its sound is decent, as it recreates sound to a satisfying point for the audiophile and worth the upgrade compared to the base system. The infotainment of the mini is based on BMW's platform that we love. However, the experience in the MINI isn’t transferred as well into the touch screen found in the Countryman. The main menu and its 7 icons are simple to use, however, the moment you leave these menus this is where submenus get confusing. Luckily Apple car play comes to the rescue and gives you a polished experience that is easily customizable similar to the split screens found in BMW’s. Wireless charging with anything more substantial then an iPhone X will unfortunately not be possible as the tray designed by MINI will just not fit them. iPhone Max or plus user will still need to charge their phones using a USB cable.
Now moving on to the installation of car seats. The installation of car seats is quick and straightforward. ISOFIX ports are hidden underneath a latch that clips open without detaching and can be hidden again when not in use. Installation of car seats will be a breeze as the ISOFIX ports are of easy access and are not awkwardly positioned. As for the rear anchor points, they are visible and can be attached easily by almost anyone over 5ft1.
In our test, we will now also let children enter the car an see if they have any difficulty doing so. In our interpretation, we’ve seen no complications with the door handle, as it can be opened by a toddler. As for accessing a child seat the little step underneath the back row will help children gain access to their child seat without any hassle. MINI might have done this inadvertently. However, we had to mention it, as it makes kids accessing their own child seat simple making awkward postures for the parent something from the past.
This might sound cliche. Even though our MINI, is not so mini anymore. We found the city drive experience enjoyable and never found it difficult to find a parking spot too big for our MINI. The only annoyance we could really find while parking was the very sensitive proximity sensors and the combination of sounds used when getting closer to an object especially for us in the north this could mean a small block of ice. Luckily the system can be turned off, or its sound can be reduced.
What we've enjoyed on our Countryman JCW: Very precise steering, quick acceleration, beautiful exhaust notes, excellent gas mileage when being tamed to drive in Comfort or ECO Mode, ease of installation of car seats. Crackles & pops!
What we've enjoyed less on our Countryman JCW: Steering wheel felt artificially heavy in sport mode, the suspension might be too stiff for certain people, the high dashboard reducing visibility for smaller drivers. We think the interior could be more polished and use additional premium materials would be a plus.
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